Naturalism in Art and Literature
The Father Of Naturalism
The best-known "proponent of naturalism" was the novelist and French art critic Émile Zola (1840–1902); he was one of the most passionate defenders of Taine's theories, putting them to use in his novels. Zola's foreword to his novel Thérèse Raquin (1867) became the fundamental manifesto of literary naturalism. He maintained and enlarged his ideas in his Experimental Novel (1880) and The Naturalist Novelists (1881), where he advocated that modern literature needed to be as accurate as possible in order to provide a record of "modern history." To Zola, literature could only be truly real if it examined life in a verifiable way, similar to a medical experiment or analysis, where humanity, as an organism, would be able to function only by following predetermined hereditary laws that were to be studied within a very precise social environment. As a careful note taker of the world in which he lived, Zola used the documents he compiled as necessary building blocks in the construction of his novels.
Zola's naturalism created no less a sensation than the earlier realism of Gustave Courbet when he showed his paintings at the Salon in Paris (1850–1851). Very quickly, and certainly by the early 1880s, if not before, literary (and eventually visual) naturalism became the most popular method of creativity throughout Europe. Much of this influence was due to the wide dissemination of literary texts through popular journals. The consistent discussion of Zola's theories by writers and painters in the public eye made it clear by the world's fairs of 1878 and 1889 that naturalism was everywhere; it had become an international phenomenon.
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